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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NBA Leaderboard, Part V

Even without the injured Tim Duncan, the Spurs have kept winning--five in a row overall and nine of their last 10--and they are now just a half game behind Boston for the best record in the league. Another injured star, LeBron James, retained his lead in the scoring race, while emerging MVP candidate Dwight Howard slipped past Marcus Camby and into the top spot in the rebounding battle. Steve Nash pulled further ahead of his competitors in the assists race by stringing together some season-high efforts in that category.

Best Five Records
-------------------

1) Boston Celtics, 17-2
2) San Antonio Spurs, 17-3
3) Phoenix Suns, 16-5
4) Orlando Magic, 16-6
5) Detroit Pistons, 14-6

An interesting battle is raging between the Celtics and the Spurs, each of whom have won nine of their last 10 games. Utah lost three in a row to drop out of the top five, replaced by the Pistons, who have won eight of their last 10 games and now have the third best ppg differential in the league, trailing only the Celtics and Spurs. The Magic have been surprisingly mediocre at home so far (5-4) and have lost two games in a row. They faded last year after a good start, so this situation bears watching, although I do not expect them to completely collapse this season. There is an interesting symmetry that is worth mentioning: Kevin Garnett's new team has the best record in the NBA and his old team, Minnesota, has the worst record (3-15).

Top Ten Scorers (and a few other notables)
------------------

1) LeBron James, CLE 30.7 ppg
2) Kobe Bryant, LAL 27.2 ppg
3) Allen Iverson, DEN 25.3 ppg
4) Tracy McGrady, HOU 25.2 ppg
5) Richard Jeffferson, NJN 25.1 ppg
6) Carlos Boozer, UTA 25.1 ppg
7) Carmelo Anthony, DEN 24.7 ppg
8) Kevin Martin, SAC 24.5 ppg
9) Michael Redd, MIL 24.0 ppg
10) Dwight Howard, ORL 23.5 ppg

14) Yao Ming, HOU 22.0 ppg

16) Deron Williams, UTA 21.2 ppg
17) Manu Ginobili, SAS 21.2 ppg
18) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 21.1 ppg

23) Kevin Durant, SEA 20.3 ppg
24) Paul Pierce, BOS 20.2 ppg

26) Kevin Garnett, BOS 19.5 ppg
27) Ray Allen, BOS 19.4 ppg

The injured James retains the top position, though he will eventually be dropped if he misses enough games to fall below the minimum requirement; he likely will return to action before that becomes an issue. The Lakers are healthy (other than Kwame Brown) and have found a good rhythm with Bryant scoring 27-28 ppg, so it does not look like he will need to string together 40 point games--for now. Iverson rocketed all the way up to third after a series of strong performances but since he plays alongside another top scorer it is unlikely that he will win another scoring title. Deron Williams jumped up to 16th place; he has averaged 31.6 ppg in his last five games, including a career-high 41 on Saturday versus Dallas. Manu Ginobili has averaged 27.0 ppg in his last five games, including a pair of 37 point performances as the Spurs beat Dallas and Utah without Tim Duncan. Kevin Durant has averaged 23.0 ppg in his last five games, including two 35 point games, both of which Seattle won. He is making progress but those two games were sandwiched around a six point game in which he shot 2-12 from the field. Durant shot a combined 21-40 from the field in his 35 point games but he shot just .395 overall in his last five games. He also averaged 5.4 rpg and 2.6 bpg but just 1.2 apg in those games. The bottom line with him still has not changed since the summer league: he has some good games and he has some bad games but his overall shooting percentage is subpar and, while he shows flashes of other abilities (such as the recent shot blocking splurge), his game is one dimensional for the most part.

Top Ten Rebounders (and a few other notables)
----------------------

1) Dwight Howard, ORL 15.0 rpg
2) Marcus Camby, DEN 14.8 rpg
3) Chris Kaman, LAC 13.7 rpg
4) Carlos Boozer, UTA 11.4 rpg
5) Al Jefferson, MIN 11.3 rpg
6) Tyson Chandler, NOH 11.1 rpg
7) Shawn Marion, PHX 11.0 rpg
8) Kevin Garnett, BOS 10.9 rpg
9) Zydrunas Ilgauskas, CLE 10.8 rpg
10) Al Horford, ATL 10.8 rpg

13) Yao Ming, HOU 10.1 rpg

16) Andrew Bynum, LAL 9.7 rpg

18) Ben Wallace, CHI 9.1 rpg

21) Tim Duncan, SAS 8.9 rpg

23) Jason Kidd, NJN 8.7 rpg

27) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 8.3 rpg

31) Shaquille O'Neal, MIA 7.8 rpg

48) Kobe Bryant, LAL 6.1 rpg

Howard moved into the top position in what figures to be a season-long battle with Marcus Camby. Ben Wallace has overcome his slow start to join the top 20 and at his recent pace he has a good chance to once again be in the top 10 before the end of the season. Rookie Al Horford already is in the top ten. He is not a big-time scorer but he also shoots a much better percentage from the field than Kevin Durant and could average a double-double if he were provided with just a couple more touches per game.

Top Ten Playmakers
----------------------

1) Steve Nash, PHX 12.3 apg
2) Jason Kidd, NJN 10.4 apg
3) Chris Paul, NOH 9.8 apg
4) Deron Williams, UTA 8.9 apg
5) Jamaal Tinsley, IND 8.7 apg
6) Baron Davis, GSW 8.5 apg
7) LeBron James, CLE 8.1 apg
8) Chauncey Billups, DET 7.8 apg
9) Jose Calderon, TOR 7.6 apg
10) Allen Iverson, DEN 7.5 apg

In last week's Leaderboard, I wrote, "Maybe Jason Kidd will actually push Steve Nash for the assists title after all, though I suspect that Nash will get some separation by putting up some 18 or 20 assist games, particularly when some weaker Eastern Conference teams venture west and arrive in Phoenix to play their fourth game in five days." Nash did not hit the 20 mark last week, but he set a new season-high in assists for three straight games (17, 18, 19--all against Eastern Conference teams, though Phoenix was the road team in each case), the first of which I covered in Indiana. James qualifies for this leaderboard and the scoring leaderboard but not the rebounding one, where he would still be in the top 50.

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:20 AM

4 comments

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4 Comments:

At Tuesday, December 11, 2007 8:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

lebron coming back so he will lead the league in scoreing agian he is going to grab a 8 reb and asists last guard 30ppg 8 and 8 was jordan. kobe will not lead league in scoreing agian james now has became a great scorer with his passing and reb, cleaveland lost 5 straight games and could barely score 70 he is most valuable player in league when kobe hasnt played well lakers have still won games if james dont score 30 his team doesnt win. and garnett team is still good without him as most valuable is to your team and the league and thats what he is kobe number 2 cruuisng gettin his 27 6 and 6 and they will be the top 2 guys with james probably winning it. but both teams records will come in to play lakers 12-8 cavs 9-13 i believe.

 
At Wednesday, December 12, 2007 5:28:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

LeBron is a small forward, not a guard. Granted, he has a lot of ballhandling responsibilities, but so did Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird and Rick Barry. LeBron is an above average rebounder for a small forward but it is not correct to compare his rebounding to MJ's or Kobe's because both of those guys are shooting guards.

Last year I was positive that Kobe would win the scoring title, even when he got off to a slow start. This season it looks like a two horse race and I'm not sure what will happen. I tend to think that Kobe will get it because down the stretch the Lakers tend to be more dependent on his scoring as other players fatigue or get injured.

Kobe leads the Lakers in scoring, assists and steals and Doc Rivers said that he is playing the best defense of anyone in the league, so I'm not sure which bad games you are talking about.

I still think that KG will win the MVP because that is the story the media wants to pump up and the media does the voting, though the story of Dwight Howard being the next Shaq seems to be gaining momentum.

 
At Wednesday, December 12, 2007 9:18:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Hey anonymous dont you cant say anything against Bryant on this board. You should know better.

If there is a story that Howard is the next Shaquille that is comedy and who ever wrote that story should be fired. The Celts are 17-2....Garnett has a lot to do with that David. If they continue he should be MVP. Forget about what the media says. Of course if it was up to you Bryant would be MVP and defensive player of the year every year. However the Lakers are playing better and Bryant is not scoring 40 a night. So thats good for him. He knows he can at any time but his teammates are showing more confidence. They still wont do anything in the playoffs but at least Bryant has learned that his teammates can play a little, especially Bynum.

I dont care what Glenn Rivers says....plus how many Lakers games has he watched?

 
At Wednesday, December 12, 2007 6:00:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

I'm not saying that Howard is the next Shaq; I'm saying that this is the kind of storyline that the media likes to create and the comparison that keeps being made.

I can't think of a year in which I would have voted Kobe the Defensive Player of the Year, though he would be in the top five on several occasions. He should have won the MVP in 2006 and 2007, not "every year."

Bynum is improving, though he almost is overrated now (i.e., the Wages of Wins article, some of the breathless praise tossed in Bynum's direction by some writers)--which is not the same thing as saying that he cannot be very good at some point; I think he can be very good but he has to keep working. Don't discount how much Kobe is helping him, as I pointed out in my LAL-Pacers recap; Kobe is a much better mentor for Bynum than Shaq was for Kobe.

Doc Rivers--and NBA coaches in general--watch a lot of film in order to prepare for upcoming games, so they know what other players and teams are doing.

Kobe has said that winning Defensive Player of the Year this season is a goal of his but he faces an uphill battle because the award has gone to big men in recent seasons.

 

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